august & a touch of Fall

All the locals I have run into lately are talking about it.  The elk are thinking about it as well….so are the brown trout and the white fish.

Fall is in the air.

Yes, it’s only August 11, but in these parts, summer is rapidly approaching it’s end.  Don’t worry, there will be plenty of summer like days ahead in the Rocky Mountains, but whether you like it or not, Fall is coming.  There are trees and bushes starting to show some color, the days are getting shorter.  I have woke to ice in the drift boat several times this past week.  I have NOT heard an elk bugle just yet, but I thought I heard one yesterday morning, which reminded me of a tree stand which needs to be moved to a new location as archery season is almost three weeks away.  September and October, on the Madison, offer some of greatest fishing opportunities.   If you keep your options open, and are willing to fish dries, nymphs and streamers, you can have some great days on the river.

On another note

2013 has been the busiest season for Big Sky Anglers to date.  As the owner/outfitter/guide, I would to give a mid-season “Thank You” to all those who trust in BSA and come fishing with us.  We truly love what we do and without folks like you, we could not exist.  Thanks to all of you who have come out to fish the Madison, Missouri, Yellowstone and Yellowstone National Park – you are the BEST.  Bookings for 2014 are coming in already……are you fishing Montana in 2014?

Fishing Report: 08.11.2013

The Madison has been a little inconsistent, but honestly, the fishing has been pretty darn good this season with all things considered.  therre are still some fishing willing to eat the nocturnal stone fly and when the moths drops from the evergreen trees, the fish are paying attention.  The daytime river temps are getting a little warm, but luckily the cold over night temps are keeping the fish happy.   We have yet to see a real flight of honey ants, but any day now these will emerge from the ground to recolonize.  When this happens, all the big trout come up for a taste of the ants.  If you are lucky enough to be on the Madison when this happens, you will never forget it.  Some of the biggest trout of the year are looking up when this hatch occurs.

YNP is fishing, but some of the rivers in the northeast corner are getting low and a bit warm.  Fishing these rivers early and late is the name of the game.  Walking a little further than the rest of the anglers will reward you as well.  Cover as much water as possible and once you start catching fish, SLOW DOWN, there are more.

2013 – A Thank You

First off, Happy New Year from West Yellowstone, Montana.

The past 12 months was filled with wonderful memories on and off the river.  Thanks to those of you who diligently return to fish with Big Sky Anglers each season, and to those first timers who trust in our word, we continue to thrive in this competitive fly fishing world.   With out the support of you – the reader, the traveling angler and our own families, BSA would not exist.   So, hats off to all of you!  We appreciate it more than you will ever know.

While sleeping sitting on the couch the past couple of days, I have been running through photos from the past year.  I picked a few…… I hope you enjoy.

Madison River Report – YNP – 09.25.2012

Making my way down Barnes Hole #1 this afternoon was worth the time spent.  I have a few days off and then a run of trips, so I figured some R & D was not only good for me, but for the days to come as well.  Walking the Madison in YNP is pretty nostalgic.  Having not wet a line in this section of the river since last Fall, the ritual of relearning the river feels good.   I get to fish, however I choose, and end up talking with some interesting folks.  One can’t help but eavesdrop on the conversations along the banks and in the parking lot while rigging for the river.  I don’t participate much in the chatter, which is full blown right now as anglers ascend on the Madison River, but there is definitely some funny shit going on out there.  The Old dudes talk politics and the younger crowd discusses fly patterns and fish numbers.   Some drop names like Jacklin or Brooks and then quote The Living River trying to feel fishy.   Charlie is long gone, but his spirit lingers and Bob is a living legend – red suspenders, plaid shirt, black glasses and that never ending loop.

All bullshit aside, there are not huge numbers of runners in the river just yet.  Yesterday’s rain and clouds, followed by today’s rain and clouds is helping things along.  However, I did my best while nymphing in the sunshine in between the storms.  Nymphing a big fly and something smaller off the back seems to well for me after the morning in which I usually swing flies.  I fish Zonkers, sculpin patterns, stones flies, prince nymphs, pheasant tails, partridge & peacock, RAM caddis and various lightning bugs.

At one point this afternoon, BWOs emerged so I switched out to a #18 purple lightning bug behind a girdle bug.  In just a few moments, I had a 21 inch brown to the hand and then three more runners hooked and off in the next twenty minutes.  The BWOs quite and caddis popped just for bit.  Back to the RAM Caddis and a couple more fish hooked up.  This is not rocket science, it’s fishing, which can actually feel like rocket science from time to time.  The runners are lake fish.  So, they are not that picky.  Drift the fly, near the bottom for as long as you can and set the hook.  Take a step down stream and do it again. Swing out the end of your drift as this is about the only time one can actually rely on hooking a fish this way.  Set on the pause of the bobber, on the hard take or if some inner voice tells you to set the hook, then do it.  Fishing is instinctive, so don’t second guess – react to the moment at hand.

Fall Brown Trout

The Professor is in town, from Wisconsin, and is enjoying his new found retirement.   His pick-up truck is littered with fly rods, waders, duck decoys, shot guns and a fine bird dog named Cody.  Howard’s trip this fall will span the next 6 weeks……..that’s one heck of a retirement vacation.  Yesterday, we hunted elk in the morning and fished the Madison in the evening.   We had a spike bull come in to 30 yards (I was close to full draw but spikes are illegal to shoot in this district) and found some brown trout on the Madison that were active and willing.


More of the same.

Madison River Fishing Report 09.04.2012

The Madison River has been inconsistent as of late.  Why?  Who knows at this point.  The river is starting to cool off and quite possibly, the fish are getting used to this.  Brown trout are on the move throughout the river system, some days they are on the bite and some days they aren’t.  Browns are hard to understand – they feed when they feel like it.  The full moon is on it’s way out, so maybe more fish will feed during the day.  At this point, one can have a banner day on the Madison and then have a tougher day the next.   Yesterday, I floated my parents down the Madison River and my Mother, above, caught more fish than my Dad!   While the bite was a little off, we had our best luck fishing nymphs and dead drifting streamers.  The morning bite has been much better than the afternoon bite – at least for my boat.  The hopper fishing this season has been less than stellar.   Walking the banks of the river one will find less hoppers than the past few years.  Yet, when hiking in the mountains and the benches above the Madison, there are quite a few.  Will they migrate down to the banks of the river during September?  Hopefully so.

Over the Labor Day weekend I joined up with Steve Hoovler, owner of Oarsman Expeditions, for an Oarsman Road Trip.  We picked the fellas up in Bozeman and headed over to Paradise Valley for a float on the Yellowstone, then spent a day fishing an unnamed river in YNP and wrapped up the trip on the Madison River.  Vince, below, had never cast a flyrod prior to this trip but picked up the techniques and caught some nice fish over the three days.  Summer road trips are a ton of fun – three rivers in three days.  Thanks Steve!

YNP, Yellowstone, Madison 07.30.2012

There are places in the Park that change every year, river bottoms undergo a massive change each season.  Ever read the Living River?  If you fish river at all, it gives a wonderful perspective of the Madison River and the changes it has went through during the days of Charlie Brooks.  The 6X6 bull elk rack, above from today, was not in this spot last fall, when I was here last.  I wonder if the river brought it downstream and left it here for us to enjoy?

The Lamar is on it’s way down, after a huge plug of mud from thunder storms in the NE Corner found it’s way in the river.  The Yellowstone in Montana blew out as well, but things have settled down a bit on that side of the Park and the Yellowstone has 2.5-3 feet of visibility.  I heard mixed reports today…..we are headed over to there tomorrow as long as the flows keep dropping by morning.  When the NE Corner is clear, it has been fishing well with ants, hoppers, smallish PMXs, various mayfly patterns and Wulff Cripples.

The Madison River in MT has the best flows for this time of the year since I started guiding it, 14 years ago.  The temps coming off Hebgen Lake are a bit warm in the afternoon, however, the river is still holding it’s own from dawn till about 3pm.  If we can get PPL and FWP to release these flows once the damn is fixed, the Madison will explode with trout.  Not that there aren’t good fish in the Madison, but we all know there could be a few more larger trout.